WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- The United States has pledged to help allies in Asia and the Middle East defend against cyberattacks launched by Iran and North Korea, officials said.
In a presidential directive made public Friday, President Barack Obama authorized various government agencies to begin working with allies in both regions to defend critical infrastructure from attacks by rogue states.
Though the directive doesn't list which particular countries are receiving the computer aid, unidentified security officials told The New York Times it is likely Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, a trio of Arab countries generally at odds with Iran.
In Asia, the United States is helping allies Japan and South Korea defend against the North.
The Times said it's likely North Korea and Iran are working together to develop cyberweapons to attack America and its allies. The two nations have worked together to develop traditional weapons arsenals, particularly missile systems.
North Korea is believed to be responsible for a cyberattack against South Korea that forced several banks to close temporarily.
Iran, whose cyberattack capabilities have grown quickly, security officials said, was responsible for an attack on Saudi Aramco, the Arab kingdom's largest oil company. That attack rendered 30,000 computers useless but ultimately did not stem oil production capabilities.
The Times said aid to friendly nations is limited to defensive hardware, software and training. It does not include the broad spectrum of offensive cyberweapons at the military's disposal. Like nuclear weapons, U.S. cyberweapons may only be deployed by presidential order.